Marc West loosens up his larynx for a sing-a-long with a community choir with a love of pop and rock

Researchers at Oxford University have concluded that nothing lubricates the wheels of social cohesion quite like a good singalong.

The scientific evidence is overwhelming – group singing promotes general health, happiness and wellbeing while simultaneously being one of the best ways to meet and bond with new people.

Back in 2011, a small, but dedicated group of just eight trailblazers started their own open-access community choir for these very reasons and today Jericho Singers boasts over 80 members who meet every Monday evening in the stunning surroundings of St Barnabas Church to share in a musical journey.

And, just a couple of weeks back, none other than ITV News political editor Robert Peston fulfilled a long-standing promise to join their ranks for a quick cover of Queen’s classic anthem Bohemian Rhapsody as part of a one-off charity concert raising funds and awareness for Jericho Wharf.

Not one to be outdone by a fellow hack, this intrepid journo followed his lead – for a rhapsody of my own.

Lead by singer, musician and vocal coach Steph Pirrie, we begin with a gentle physical warm-up that involves shaking it all out alongside some heaving sighing and humming – leaving me wondering if I’d joined the right class.

However, these simple exercises relax the body and soften up those all-important vocal chords. Plus, a series of complicated hand-routines ensure we’re all concentrating and not trying to lurk near the back. Having been recruited into the tenor section, I stand tall, shoulders back, chest out, chin up and try to give it 'some zing'.

Fortunately, no experience is required, just lots of enthusiasm. And, this welcoming group has an infectious amount of that in abundance. You can see the joy on their faces (and mine) at the realisation that with just a little practice you can quickly learn songs by ear and within just two hours the group have me singing my heart out, joining in with four-part harmonies on a range of arrangements from around the world.

With clubs blossoming across the UK, it’s no longer all about classical music, and I find myself tapping my feet to the beat – with earworms from Kentucky Bluegrass to Afro-Jazz, and even stadium rock!

The strong choral structure of songs like Karma Police by Oxford’s very own Radiohead lends itself perfectly to being deconstructed then rebuilt for many voices.

Highlighting the sheer genius of the original songwriting, this remixed version sounds like nothing I’ve ever heard before and it feels truly uplifting to be a (albeit small) cog in this wondrous engine of sound that reverberates around this acoustically perfect venue.

So, Thom if you’re reading this, you know where to come for a backing choir for this year’s Glastonbury Festival... hint hint!

If you’d like to take part too, Jericho Singers are seeking members for their new lunchtime session – starting next Wednesday at noon. So, bring a packed lunch and join the fun in these hourly get-togethers for all-comers.